Pike County resident diagnosed with La Crosse encephalitis

By Wayne Allen

August 29, 2013

Wayne Allen

PDT Staff Writer

According to information released Wednesday from the Pike County General Health District a resident of Pike County has been diagnosed with La Crosse encephalitis, an illness transmitted by mosquitoes.

In a technical fact sheet provided by the health district, “the La Crosse virus is transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito (Aedes triseriatus, the eastern tree hole mosquito). The virus has a complex life cycle involving Ae. triseriatus and small mammals such as chipmunks and squirrels. Humans are not thought to be involved in the transmission cycle as they develop only low levels of circulating virus in the bloodstream. Ae. triseriatus lays its eggs in tree holes and man-made containers; it typically bites during the day.”

Wally Burden Pike County General Health District, Health Commissioner said this is the first recorded case in Pike County and the fifth in the state this year.

“As I understand it, there have been five cases statewide this year. I understand that all five of the cases have been treated at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and four of them have been released. Our patient has not.”

Burden said there are typically 80 -100 of these cases throughout the United States every year.

He said it would hard to find the source of the mosquito and where it came from.

“We know it was a mosquito to human transmission. As far as knowing the exact location (of the infected mosquito), it’s hard to know. This is sometimes called a stump mosquito because they like to get into a dead tree and if water sits there and becomes stagnate, that’s where they lay their eggs,” Burden said.

According to the provided fact sheet, “most cases of LACV disease were reported from the upper Midwestern states. Recently, more cases have been reported from mid-Atlantic and southeastern states. LACV disease cases occur primarily from late spring through early fall, but in subtropical endemic areas (e.g., the Gulf states), rare cases can occur in winter.”

Some of the risk factors include, “all people in areas where virus activity has been identified are at risk of getting infected with LACV. However, most cases of severe LACV disease occur in children under 16 years of age. People who live in or visit woodland habitats and those who work outside or participate in outdoor recreational activities in areas where the virus is circulating are at increased risk due to mosquito exposure. LACV infection is thought to confer life-long immunity against re-infection.”

Burden gave little information about the resident only indicating they were lass than 16 years old and that’s why they were taken to Nationwide Children Hospital for treatment.

“We continue to remind individuals to use insect repellent (DEET), wear long sleeves and slacks, and to avoid stagnant water. The mosquito that transmits La Crosse virus is usually found in tree holes and man-made containers. Unlike most mosquitoes, this particular mosquito bites during the day. In addition, we would remind folks that this virus is non-contagious and spread only by mosquitoes,” Burden said.

For more information about the Pike County General Health District visit, www.pike-health.org.

Wayne Allen may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 228, or tallen@civitasmedia.com. For breaking news, follow Wayne on Twitter @WayneallenPDT.